Nature Anti-FOI Editorial Criticized

A Nature reader has run the gauntlet at Nature, who published a criticism of their anti-FOI editorial. David Bell of the University of Nottingham’s letter reads as follows:

Climate e-mails: lack of data sharing is a real concern

Your Editorial (Nature 462, 545; 2009) castigates “denialists” for making “endless, time-consuming demands for information under the US and UK Freedom of Information Acts”. But you do not mention the reason — that the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has systematically tried to avoid revealing data and code.

Science relies upon open analysis of data and methods, and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has a clear data-sharing policy that expects scientists “to cooperate in validating and publishing [data] in their entirety”. The university’s leaked e-mails imply a concerted effort to avoid data sharing, which both violates the best practice defined in NERC policy and prevents verification of the results obtained by the unit. Asking for scientific data and code should not lead to anyone being branded as part of the “climate-change denialist fringe”.

David R. Bell
Molecular Toxicology,
School of Biology,
University of Nottingham, Nottingham


  1. dearieme
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    “As a rule (and there are few exceptions), geneticists generously make their raw data available in the public domain on publication of their analyses.” Stephen Oppenheimer, in his book “The Origins of the British”.

  2. chris2e
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    This is absolutely the rational view any good scientist should have on this matter. A good scientist after all really cares only about a stated truth indeed being a truth. I sincerely hope that the majority of the scientific community share this same view such that the data and code gets released in it’s entirety and we can have a more widescale audit of their claims (in addition to the tremendous work Steve and his collegues have done).

  3. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

    I read the editorial (Nature 462, 545; 2009), it came up before.

    I was surprised. I can’t remember one like that. I can’t recall another time when a science journal adopted ‘political lingo’, like ‘denialist’. Editorials are written by editors.

    Ah, the editorial was written ‘in moment of heat’ because some dumb scientist challenged the editor’s belief.

    “endless, time-consuming demands for information” that they can’t find because they threw it away. It would be too difficult to fake the supposed lost data. (Which. I assume, was a very, very, minor criteria for verification of the emails.

    In my words, the standard complaint, “endless, time-consuming demands for information” means bad paper to begin with. Put the information in the paper to begin with.

    “Oh, It’s proprietary; it’s value added…” Don’t publish! People can have trade secrets.

    Ya can’t have it both ways.

    • PaddikJ
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

      That was also the first thing to catch my eye – “Denier”.

      The second thing was “The oceans are rising, the oceans are rising!”

      Nature has truly lost its way.

      (BTW, the letter is so concise, I suspect in may have been redacted)

  4. Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    I am sure that the “silent majority” at the universities would endorse this modest statement about the accessibility of scientific data. Even at Real Climate, you can see lots of people who are not censored out and who write similar things.

    Real Climate – and Gavin – may have recently started some kind of perestroika, anyway. A question remains whether we actually want “alarmism with a human face” or a sensible science without any bias and censorship.

  5. Bill S
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    I have no objection to requirements to archive raw data when the data gathering is paid by public funds.
    But, in point of fact, I do not want any organizations actual code. I want clear documentation of the algorithms the code is supposed to implement instead. Then I want at least two independent software organizations to implement the algorithms. Finally, when these two or more independent sets of software come up with the same answer – I am not unhappy.
    This is based on the belief that when you have someone else’s software it is far to easy to cut and paste and thereby perpetuate a mistake.

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

      While the “competing teams” process works well, it’s also apparent from the open source movement that the more complex the software, the better the open source method works. So for (relatively!) simple things like PCA etc, the “competing teams” approach is fair enough, but for things as complex as climate models, open source is more preferable IMO. Of course, the issue is where to draw the line – if the published paper contains enough information for an independent researcher to duplicate the work without reference to the original source code, then no release is needed, but if there is insufficient space to completely document the method, release of source code is a must, IMO. Perhaps the peer review system should also include such a judgement from the reviewers?

      • DCC
        Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

        Hard to imagine in this Internet age that there would be insufficient space to document a methodology. This is not to say that release of the source, or selected subroutines, would not be of additional help. But the critical factor is a clear explanation of what the code purports to accomplish.

      • Mailman
        Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 8:12 AM | Permalink


        The problem is who gets to decide if the paper has enough info in it?

        The best bet would be to ALWAYS archive the data, source code and meta data used to produce the paper in the first place.

        If you can support your paper with the data you based your opinion on, then people shouldnt be surprised when lots of other people start asking to see your data.


    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

      A far too common problem in the climate story (not GCMs per se, but things like GISS adjustments, Hadley output, RCS methods) the key to replication is the EXACT input data (not a hand-wave that available treering data was used) and EXACT outputs of the algorithms have not been available. It is about time that they were.

    • Gdn
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Permalink

      Then I want at least two independent software organizations to implement the algorithms.

      Then again, you have to determine if they are independent. It seems apparent that HadCRU and GISS have some serious intertanglings…and they are funded by different governments.

  6. Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    It’s great to see another scientist speaking up re open information. But Steve, is half your article missing? All I can see is two sentences from you and the quote from David Bell. But perhaps that’s enough: he has got to the heart of the matter and I’m glad if Nature have actually published it.

    In the same anti-FOI editorial, Nature talked about “multiple, robust lines of evidence”, including

    the global sea level is rising. The rise is caused in part by water pouring in from melting glaciers and ice sheets, but also by thermal expansion as the oceans warm

    which is sheer bad science and Nature should surely have known better. Sea level is rising, the rate of rise fluctuates a little but it has NOT accelerated overall for 150 years. It seems the current incarnation of Nature is not just anti-FOI, it’s anti-known-science and anti-scientific-method on this occasion.

    • pete m
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

      A query on the ocean rising point – do they tske into account that each cm rise is actually a larger volume than the previous cm rise? ie the cup anology here is not a cup of vertical lines, but lines going outwards (albiet slowly)?

      re on point – good to see some scientists sticking up for basic scientific method despite the political storm created by climate scientists. How dare Nature editorialise away from the basic tenets of science!

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

        Re: pete m (Jan 12 16:51),

        Think about it! Each meter of ocean rise would produce pi meters of increase in circumference of the earth. Thus if there were a 30 foot rise in sea level there’d be about 100f of circumference out of 25,000 miles of existing circumference. An insignificant increase.

        • Redbone
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

          This is incorrect. We are dealing with volume of sea water, not circumference. Volume is calculated by V = 4/3 pi r^3. Therefore a one meter increase in sea level will change the total volume of the sphere by a factor of (r new^3) – (r old^3), or, very roughly, 1×10^11 cubic meters.

          The amount of change is an exponential and becomes quite significant as r new minus r old increases.

        • Carbone
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 1:46 AM | Permalink

          every 1 meter rise would add roughly 160000 cubic meters (54x54x54m cube) more than previous 1 meter rise.

          1 meter = 3.3ft

          That’s few additional micropercents. Insignificant.

        • Redbone
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Permalink


    • Brooks Hurd
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

      The point which is often missed in the sea level issue was also missed by Nature. Plate tectonics cause land to rise and fall. This is particularly true at plate boundaries. The Atlantic coast of Europe is subsiding whereas the Pacific coast of the US is going in the opposite direction. Unless the sea level guage you are using is firmly mounted on a seismically stable piece of real estate, it will be measuring more than ocean level changes. I believe that Nature should have mentioned this in their editorial.

    • Nicolas Nierenberg
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:50 PM | Permalink


      That isn’t correct, certainly the rate of sea level rise has increased during the instrumental period. I could reference any number of studies.

      • Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

        Please do.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

          Ok, how about this paper, from Church and White.

        • Ryan
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 6:11 AM | Permalink

          Yep, just read it. The paper doesn’t actually indicate the sea level rise. It makes assumptions about the rise in the temperature of the oceans then makes further estimates of how much this would lead to melting of the ice-caps and expansion of the sea water then adds them together to give an estimate of the sea level rise to be a linear 6cm over the last 50 years. It then tries to relate these to another previous study that gave a measurement of the actual sea level rise. All of this was based on very sparse data indeed. Apart from the fact this is hardly scary stuff, the basic underlying assumptions are that the oceans have got warmer due to AGW over the last 50 years. Furthermore the report is rather undermined by the claim that building dams increased water storage on land in 1975 but had no impact after that time!

          This kind of paper would only convince a “true believer”.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 10:31 AM | Permalink


          You need to read page 1092 starting with “We update in situ estimates of globally averaged sea level…” In this portion of the paper they discuss improvements to existing methods for estimating sea level rise using tide gauges. This is not based on a small sample, but rather a very large set of tide gauges from around the world. It is corrected for a number of factors as discussed in the article. It also contains a comparison of the results from tide gauges and recent satellite measurements. Both show increases in the rate of rise with the satellites showing somewhat more. There have been a couple of recent papers reconciling the differences between tide gauges and satellites, but in any event the rate of recent increase has certainly been higher than the 20th century average.

          The data are available on their web site at

          I don’t know of any peer reviewed studies that don’t show an increase in the rate of sea level rise during the last part of the instrumental period.

        • Carl Gullans
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

          I think lucy was saying that sea level rise hasn’t accelerated, but merely has continued with the same rise as it has for 150 years.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

          I know what she is saying and it is wrong. The rate of sea level rise has increased over the instrumental period. I know of no studies that don’t agree with that.

        • SteveGinIL
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nicolas Nierenberg (Jan 13 11:38),

          Just asking – What is wrong with this guy Mörner’s take here: here?

          I know only a bit about this and would like to know what is wrong with his criticism. It isn’t a long post. Is he cherry picking his facts? Or is it a legitimate point he makes?

        • Ryan
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 4:59 AM | Permalink

          Morners estimate is 5cm +/-15cm over 100 years. That’s 20cm max.

          The paper Nierenberg linked to suggests 6cm over the last 50 years, i.e. 12cm over the next 100 years, so actually they are in agreement. Both studies show the rate of rise to be linear over the last 50 years. So in fact they agree, and the only surprise is that Nierenberg was daft enough to link to a paper that actually undermines his position. Both papers are highly supportive of the sceptical position, especially when you consider that sea level rise is supposed to be the major danger of AGW.

          To be honest I would be surprised if you could measure to the necessary accuracy. Tidal gauges are just tubes with a float in the top – hardly ideal when trying to measure sea levels to the nearest mm. A satellite measurement of water volume would need to be accurate to 1mm in an ocean that can be 12miles deep.

        • Ryan
          Posted Jan 15, 2010 at 6:09 AM | Permalink

          The study you have linked to certainly shows that doesn’t it? Problem is that an analysis of the data you linked to (Church and White) shows a LINEAR rise of 2mm/annum from 1930 to 2001. So how does the study list on page 1092 a rise of 1.6mm/annum up until 1993 and a rise of 2.4mm after 1993? Well simply by taking a line of regression right on a short duration anomoly right on 1993 where the tides happened to be lower than usual in that year. Thus we cunnignly arrange a lower rate of rise before 1993 and a larger rate of rise after 1993.

          Now you might say to me “why start in 1930 when there is data going back to 1870?”. Well that would be because proper tide measurement techniques weren’t invented until 1870 and were not settled and standardised until 1912. Global tide measuring data probably just isn’t reliable until you get close to the war years. After that the tide guages can be assumed to be standardised on the same approach world-wide.

          The paper that Mr Nierenberg points to is exactly the kind of paper that Steve has been auditing for years. It shows cherry picking of data, unreasonable statistical manipulating of the data to “demonstrate” accelerating accelerating sensitivity to CO2 emissions and finally “goal orientated modelling” where the desired outcome of a model is known and where the component parts of the model are added in the order they are thought up until the model seems to match the desired outcome at which point the search for further inputs is stopped.

          Mr Nierenberg then criticises Moerner for his lack of published papers despite the fact tha the data in the study he has linked to actually agrees with Moerner’s work once the child-like fudging of the date is ignored.

        • Ryan
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

          But the study you point to:

          1] shows a LINEAR rise

          2] Shows the rise to be only 6cm over 50years (compared with 1500cm for the tidal range at Bristol UK, for comparison)

          3] Is, in fact, based on sparse data (due to nobody taking reliable measurements of such things back in 1950) – statistical techniques have been used to try and reclaim accurate data from unreliable and sparse observations – and we all know where that gets us. No reliable readings have been taken until we get to the 1980s.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 2:45 PM | Permalink


          I’m sorry but this is Climate Audit, which means that statements have to be factually correct.

          Linear means rising at the same rate. Just look at the graph, the line curves upward which is non-linear. Another way to see this fact is to look at the data values themselves, which you can find on the page I linked to. I’ll stop discussing that because anyone can see it for themselves.

          Sparse data means not much data. There are tons of tide gauge sites. Perhaps you mean not completely reliable data.

          It is true that tide gauge data taken much earlier might not be perfect, but there are a large number of observations, and they are pretty consistent during the period. Anyway even if you just use the data since 1980 or whatever start date you would like you can see the increasing rate of rise.

          Yes the total sea level rise in the 20th century wasn’t all that big, that’s beside the point of what started this post.

        • David S
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

          I guess this is about a sense of proportion. There are far more serious environmental threats than a 6cm rise in sea level, and stunts like that performed by the Maldives government distract from all the real issues. That is why Nature’s behaviour is so egregious.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

          Nature wasn’t wrong about multiple robust lines of evidence that the planet has warmed, and that the rate of sea level rise has increased. They were wrong to imply that this was what was truly in question as a result of the “climategate” emails.

          For me the issue with climategate was the fact that scientists became advocates for a political position, and were making decisions based on how they thought various scientific results would affect the public debate. This led them to actions like “tricking up” graphs, rejecting legitimate criticism of results, and withholding data.

        • MangoChutney
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

          Apologies, this reply is for Nicolas Nierenberg

          Nature may be correct about “multiple robust lines of evidence that the planet has warmed”, but those lines of evidence do not tell us what caused the warming


        • D. Patterson
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

          INQUA reports the IPPCC and other reports of current sea level rise are false “Nonsense.”

          It is true that sea level rose in the order of 10-11 cm from 1850 to 1940 as a function of Solar variability and related changes in global temperature and glacial volume. From 1940 to 1970, it stopped rising, maybe even fell a little. In the last 10-15 years, we see no true signs of any rise or, especially, accelerating rise (as claimed by IPCC), only a variability around zero.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink


        • D. Patterson
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

          Memorandum by Professor Nils-Axel Mörner, Head of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden President, (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, Leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project. Select Committee on Economic Affairs; House of Lords; Parliament.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

          I’m sorry but this is not an official INQUA statement, and it certainly isn’t any kind of peer reviewed result. We need to stick with real science, not just what someone posts on the internet.

        • D. Patterson
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

          That has to be one of the sorriest excuses for a response since the Climategate memos. Mörner’s memorandum to Britain’s House of Lords in Parliament are excerpts from his prolific peer-reviewed research. Mörner is widely regarded as the world’s foremost scientific expert on the subject of sea levels, given decades of groundbreaking research on the subject. For you to airily dismiss his scientific contributions and memorandum to Parliament on the subject as not “real science, not just what someone posts on the internet” is profoundly disrespectful and wrong.

          If you cannot quickly and easily perform a basic search for his peer reviewed papers, there must be something wrong with you and your ability to read and comprehend the memorandum.

          Mörner, N-A, 2005. Sea level changes and crustal movements with special aspects on the eastern Mediterranean. Z Geomorph. NF, Suppl Vol 137, p 91-102.
            Mörner, N-A, 2004d. Changing Sea Levels. In: Encyclopedia of Coastal Science (M Schwartz, Ed), p 284-288.
            Mörner, N-A, 2004c. Sea level change: Are low-lying islands and coastal areas are under threat? In: “The impacts of climate changes. An appraisal for the future”, p 29-35. International Policy Press.
            Mörner, N-A, 2004b. The Maldives Project: a future free from sea level flooding. Contemprary South Asia, 13 (2), p 149-155.
            Mörner, N-A, 2004a. Estimating future sea level changes. Global Planet. Change, 40, 49-54.
            Mörner, N-A, Tooley, M & Possnert, G, 2004. New perspectives for the future of the Maldives. Global Planet. Change, 40, 177-182.
            Mörner, N-A, 2002. Livello dei mari e clima (Sea Level Changes and Climate). Nuova Secondaria, 10/2002, p 43-45.
            Mörner, N-A, 2001. Global and local sea level changes: the interaction of multipleparametres (hydrosphre, cryosphere, lithosphere, ocean dynamics and climate). Schr. Deutschen Geol. Gesellschaft, 14, 3-4.
            Mörner, N-A, 2000b. Sea level changes in western Europe. Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Autumn 2000 Ed, p 31-36, ICG Publ. Ltd.
            Mörner, N-A, 2000a. Sea level changes and coastal dynamics in the Indian Ocean. Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Spring 2000 Ed, p 17-20, ICG Publ. Ltd.
            Mörner, N-A, 1999. Sea level and climate. Rapid regressions at local warm phases. Quaternary International, 60, 75-82.
            Mörner, N-A, 1996b. Rapid changes in coastal sea level. J. Coastal Res, 12, 797-800.
            Mörner, N-A, 1996a. Sea Level Variability. Z Geomorphology NS, 102, p 223-232.
            Mörner, N-A, 1995. Earth rotation, ocean circulation and paleoclimate. GeoJournal, 37, 419-430.
            Mörner, N-A, 1995b. Recorded sea level variability in the Holocene and expected future changes. In: Climatic Change: Impacts on Coastal Habitation (D Eisma, Ed), pp 17-28.
            Mörner, N-A, 1995a. Sea Level and Climate—The decadal-to-century signals. J Coastal Res., Sp I 17, 261-268.
            Plus numerous sea level papers in the period 1969-95.

        • SteveGinIL
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

          Re: D. Patterson (Jan 13 17:27),

          [For some reason, I don’t get any option on comments past this point on this one sub-thread – strange – so I am posting this here…]

          Thanks, D. Patterson, for pointing out Mörner’s papers and his criticisms. I had replied to Nicolas Nierenberg above before seeing your comments and bibliography of Mörner’s work.

          I asked Nicolas to please offer what is wrong with Mörner’s work. Your response to Nicolas answers my question, and apparently shut him up – but maybe not. I wait with bated breath for Nicolas’ response. Either he got the hell out of Dodge or he called it a night. Hopefully he comes back and responds.

          . . .

          I am no geologist, but have read a few sourced web pages and have a little appreciation of how difficult it is to get good tide data, even now. The variables seem to be almost insurmountable, and it seems that the 6cm is almost as large as the uncertainty in the data, especially in early decades. I was astounded to learn how complicated it is.

          As a lay person (but an engineer), I much appreciate this site and its reliance on science, while allowing people like me to come and begin to pick up the thread of the arguments (and a plethora of data, if we can make sense of it all – and some times I can) in a readable form, along with the comments of scientists and informed lay people (who I aspire to be, but have a ways to go yet).

        • Ryan
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 4:15 AM | Permalink

          My statement IS factually correct. The sea level rise is shown by the BLACK line in Figure 3b of the document you linked to and clearly shows a rise which is LINEAR and SMALL.

          I am of the opinion that you never expected anyone to bother to read the paper you linked to and hoped that it would be an end to the matter, but actually it was worth reading from a sceptic point of view since it supports the sceptic point of view that any sea level rise is too small to be concerned about, shows no sign of “positive feedback” leading to an exponential rise and no sign of a tipping point. So I suppose I should thank you for pointing it out to us.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 10:23 AM | Permalink


          The long term trend is from 1961-2003 is 1.6mm/year. The recent trend is above 2.3mm/year. (again page 1092) This is what is called an increasing rate. The black line does slope upward, which as I pointed out before can be readily seen in the data on the page I linked to. I know I said I was done, but I guess calling me “daft” brought me back. I haven’t insulted you, and I don’t appreciate it.

          I guess I also assumed that readers of this blog would be familiar with the background. The longer term trend an complete discussion can be found in IPCC AR4 Section 5.5. Figure 5.13 shows the long term trends which clearly slope upward. The paper I referenced while showing the upward trend in recent times, doesn’t cover this long a period, which is entirely in the instrumental period.

          And before I get the anti-IPCC rhetoric this section, as far as I now, is uncontroversial unlike the paleo section that Steve focuses on.

          On the issue of Morner. I would be happy to read any peer reviewed paper that he or anyone else produced that supports a different reconstruction of sea level rise. I am open to other data, but I’m not aware of any.

        • harold
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

          I think you’re being way too harsh here. The data is the data. Exactly how much acceleration is found is a function of dates chosen. The model used in the paper is clearly not a good predictor of the past, so there is something more going on that isn’t being taken into account.

          I think that overly broad conclusions may have been drawn based on good studies. In particular, observational data sets and models based on them don’t give any basis for believing that any particular extrapolation actually has validity – the validity is taken on faith, not science.

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

          BTW on Morner,

          Of all the cited papers only one “Estimating future sea level…” really is on the topic of global sea level. If you read the paper, it amounts to his opinion on the work to date.

          A response to that paper is

          You really shouldn’t lock on to one researcher, who is not publishing original research.

        • Posted Jan 18, 2010 at 4:45 AM | Permalink

          Dear Nicolas (and others). I find the paper from Nerem et al to be a bit disturbing. They happily admit that they started to search for errors when the expected outcome was not reached, and continued to develop their model until it was “validated”, i.e. agreed with IPCC values. They may of course be right but the methodology clearly is pray to expectation bias. (The same can probably be said of Mörners work, except that he focuses more on observation than modelling.)

    • suricat
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

      Lucy Skywalker.

      As an engineer, I’m not really included with these ‘science types’. However, when I make a patent application I employ the services of a Patent Solicitor before serving the Patents Office with my ‘patent application’. The object of this is to improve the commercial viability of any patent that is granted by the Patents Office. Although this route is expensive, it ensures that I’m in control of the patented product and if their advice is that a grant of patent is unlikely then I just don’t ‘file’ for a patent. However, I may well decide to ‘file’ anyway, and refer all communications to myself. After all, the reason we follow our trade skills is to make a living, isn’t it?

      Having said that, I have a problem with ‘journals’!
      A ‘journal’ expects payment for the release of detail about a scientific ‘finding’, which all too often doesn’t usually percolate down to the ‘finder of the finding’ (the scientist). Why? Because the ‘establishment’ hosting the ‘journal’ claims to have invested cash to ‘host’ and ‘verify’ these ‘findings’! It would be much better if the ‘host’ only charged their hard drive space for this, as the scientist that made these discoveries only seems to receive ‘grant money’ for their effort and not partake in any success from their labours other than ‘acclaim’. This set-up seems more bias towards web-hosting of science products than science per se.

      Wouldn’t it be better if ‘journals’ only hosted an abstract, then ‘re-routed’ an inquiry to the scientist’s ‘home’ web-site?
      This would place the responsibility of retention of ‘raw data’ on the scientist that made the discovery and also provide a ‘remit’ for the inclusion of web-site upkeep in the original ‘grant for scientific inquiry’ that funded the science in the first place.

      Surely it must be the responsibility of the scientist to provide details of their findings, if only to ‘prove the case at hand’?

      Best regards, suricat.

  7. Sordnay
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 3:33 PM | Permalink

    Sea level is rising, the rate of rise fluctuates a little but it has NOT accelerated overall for 150 years.
    well, whether it accelerates or not depends on the “container” and it’s a well known fact that earth has the exact shape that with the acelerated melting of glaciers and ice sheets (over land) and the thermal expansion of oceans leads to a constant rate rise, that’s basic settled science.

  8. Hmmm
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    This letter is concise, straightforward, and airtight. The team will just continue to deflect such direct reasoning by highlighting what the word “trick” can also mean, and noting that none of us want our emails to be public. My preferred team response would be an attempt to correct their process and lead to an era of open replication of scientific work. However, I am fine (and not surprised) with their tactics. In my opinion the commmon people on the fence who look into this issue are usually going to see through these weak distraction attempts and demand the same scientific transparency that so called skeptics and deniers are calling for.

    Nature should be embarassed for putting out such an editorial.
    -First, why does Nature think this is the appropriate place for such commentary?
    -Second, How much did they investigate the truth to their statements without even contacting people about what they were requesting and for what purpose?
    -Third, is it really Nature’s place to be an advocate to the extremely questionable practices revealed by those emails? It looks like they practically let the one side of this issue draft that editorial.

    I’m guessing they hoped a forceful editorial could be used as ammunition against the opposition (they seem to run to journals rather than face arguments directly). What they really achieved was to further highlight the weird team/journal relationship already brought into question.

    • SteveGinIL
      Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:40 AM | Permalink

      Re: Hmmm (Jan 12 15:34),

      Well, when half of CRU’s arguments are “Peer review! Peer review! Look over their folks! … (don’t look at my hands!),” when their very own emails are demonstrating that peer review was really the Hockey Stick Team reviewing themselves, of COURSE their peer reviewed journal of first resort – which is in bed with them – is going to yell and scream that the audience has no RIGHT to look at the magician’s hands. How is the trick (no pun intended!) supposed to work, if the audience looks at what is really happening, instead of at the distraction?

      When I traveled to the Middle East, years ago, there was a gesture used there about someone being in bed with someone else. It was bringing both hands together with the backs of the hands to the sky and the two index fingers extended and lying against each other. It was ALWAYS accompanied by a sly look of, “They are doing something naughty,” and a smirk. I think some there would look at Nature and CRU and use that gesture. And that smirk.

      With peer review being shown to be a sham – political motivations predominating and the jury and the courtroom both in bed with the CRU people – little short of a complete revamping of the entire process will bring honor to the system again.

      When the courtroom (the peer-review magazine) itself is under attack, what else ARE they to do but claim “Foul!” and hope that people will swallow it?

      Yes, “mea culpa” would be nice. But, so far, like Tricky Dicky (did I work another unintended pun in here? lol), they just don’t get it, that they all have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. It only remains for the other shoe to drop.

      As is said above, they only bring further shame on themselves.

  9. Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    Nature’s editorial endorses the stance of the Climategate team that they are being assailed by excessively numerous FOI requests by vexatious deniers. However, an earlier Climategate email paints a different picture. It is email number 1083962601 on 7 May 2004; Jones to van Ommen and Ammann. This email shows no concern about time-consuming FOI requests, at that stage at any rate. It shows some concern about data confidentiality. It also says Jones did not have some of the data. But Jones’ clearly stated primary concern with data release at this stage was “mostly that (McIntyre) will distort and misuse them.” In other words, McIntyre was asking unwelcome questions.

  10. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    1) Except for providing a list of stations and some other trivial info, CRU etc. have spent no time on FOI requests because they ignore them.
    2) The “large number” meme is probably from the many people asking for the legal confidentiality agreements for Jones’ data, but that was only last summer, and would not have involved any scientists.
    3) Greenpeace just filed burdensome FOI requests (every email and document they ever wrote) against multiple US skeptics, but failed to grasp that several of them work for private universities or are retired. Where is Nature’s defence of these people?

  11. Fred
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Or read another way, by printing this Letter, Nature is starting the process of throwing CRU under a bus.

  12. Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    Sea Level Rising NONSENSE..

    Italy’s Pompei..

    Has “docks” about 3/4 mile inland from the current shoreline.

    Sea level was MARKEDLY HIGHER at the time Mt. Vesuvius buried them. (Unless one argues the Straights of Magellan were closed, which I doubt!)

    SO where was FLORIDA then? Probably about 25% smaller..swampland, covered by ocean. NO BIG DEAL.

    Of course for SMALL MINDS it’s a BIG DEAL!

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

      This phenomenon of docks or cities being inland can result from sedimentation due to agriculture filling up a bay or wide river. The mouth of the Tigris/Euphrates filled up by miles since 3000 yrs ago. It is not proof of sea level change. If the docks were inland 3/4 mile and up in elevation, that is another story.

    • SteveGinIL
      Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:46 AM | Permalink

      Re: Max Hugoson (Jan 12 17:31),

      Without looking at the particulars, and off the top of my head, one can make a prima facie case that the fairly frequent eruptions and activity of the magma chamber of Vesuvius have uplifted that area.

  13. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    “Stolen e-mails have revealed no scientific conspiracy”.

    Gee, Nature says ‘Stolen’. Interesting. Of course. they are on the ‘inside’.

    Not ‘Stolen’, Nature.

  14. EdeF
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

    Ironicaly, here is a 9-9-09 special feature issue from Nature on data sharing:

    • Should not need FOI - Should be published
      Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

      From Nature (9-9-09)

      Data’s shameful neglect


      Research cannot flourish if data are not preserved and made accessible. All concerned must act accordingly. …

      Hmmm – obviously not read by the hockey-stick team & the CRU

  15. Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    I know that speculation is (quite wisely) discouraged here; however, wrt this particular editorial, I have engaged in some speculation on my own blog. For those who might be interested:

  16. pat
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    sorry this is O/T

    ‘Climategate’ professor Michael Mann protected ‘to maximum extent’ by Penn
    State policy
    So, the team consists of Foley, plus William Brune, Mann’s boss, who has
    headed Penn State’s meteorology department for about a decade, and Candice
    Yekel, director of the Office of Research Protections, who reports to Foley.
    If the committee feels the allegations warrant further scrutiny, Foley will
    appoint another committee — this time five tenured professors who have “no
    conflicts of interest and are competent to evaluate the issues objectively.”

    • jim edwards
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

      This is a good thing.

      It may mean a coverup, but personnel investigations by one’s employer should be private.

      If somebody wants a public inquiry, they should resort to the courts – not rely upon processes designed for employee discipline.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

      Re: pat (Jan 12 18:51),

      “this time five tenured professors who have “no
      conflicts of interest and are competent to evaluate the issues objectively.”

      Those will the two criteria to look at. How did they know no COI? How did they assess competence?

  17. Ron Cram
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I had nearly come to the conclusion Nature would no longer publish anything critical of their actions. The Nature blog run by Olive Heffernan has certainly taken to censoring comments if they criticize the magazine.

    Most likely, Nature got hundreds of letters like the one published and they felt they had to publish one of them. Nature has to be very careful. Nature lost a great deal of credibility with its support of Michael Mann during the Hockey Stick controversy. The CRU hack certainly did not add any luster to Nature’s stable of writers. A little RC style censorship and they will lose all credibility.

    • Hugo M
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

      Ron Cram said on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:51 PM:

      Most likely, Nature got hundreds of letters like the one published and they felt they had to publish one of them.

      Oh yes. Here is another one:

      <h3 An Open Letter to Nature.
      6 December, 2009

      Sir / Madam –

      The CRUtape letters, as I have seen them called, are a stain on science; likewise, your exculpatory editorial of 3 December.
      Already, the utility of all-but-the-kitchen-sink simulations, whereby a system we don’t understand is replaced by models we can’t understand, has been called into question. Now historical and paleo-proxy temperature time series are also suspect. And the world has learned that both the objectivity of prominent investigators and the exactitude of their productions are apotheoses of the risible.
      Mea culpas, admissions of imperfect understanding, a soupçon of humility — all are in order; excusing the inexcusable is not.
      Millions of dollars have been and are being squandered; millions of lives have been and are being impoverished. And if the globe cools in earnest, whether the result of a dormant un or intrinsic, chaotic cyclicity, millions will perish for lack of energy, the production of which will have been proscribed by the high priests of science. Come the day, historians will write of a grotesque synergy whereby agenda-driven “research” and extremist ideology pushed mankind to the brink.
      The entire scientific community should be afraid. If ice, not fire, be in our future, all of us, not just the Climategate principals, their allies and apologists, will hang from lampposts, perhaps metaphorically, perhaps in fact. May yours be visible from mine.

      W. M. Schaffer, Ph. D.
      Professor of Biology

  18. David85
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

    David Bell’s words are refreshing, but he isn’t a climatologist so his words have no merit.

    At least, thats what a true alarmist would say.

    Openness and transparency are the foundation of good science. Anything less should not be tolerated.

  19. R.S.Brown
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 7:48 PM | Permalink


    I finally found the Fiscal Year 2008 summary for the U.S.
    Department of Commerce FIOA requests at:

    Click to access foia_report_fy08_doc.pdf

    NOAA reports that in Fiscal Year 2008 the agency received 605 FOIA
    requests. This compares to the 506 request they reported for Fiscal Year
    2007. This is a 7.5 % increase in requests from FY07 to FY08.

    IN FY07 they cleared up some “pending requests” from the FY06 ,
    processing a total of 668 requests. During Fiscal Year 2008 NOAA again
    processed some backlogged requests, processed 576 requests. This is a
    13.8% year over year decline in requests processed.

    Source: Department of Commerce FOIA Annual Report FY08, page 50.

    During Fiscal Year 2008, NOAA expended $216,178.00 in processing costs.
    They utilized the equivalent of twelve full time employees. This involved
    (two full timers and enough folks working part time on requests to equal
    another ten full time staffers.

    NOAA indicates receiving $ 49,067.05 in FOIA processing fees for FY 2008.
    This is reported as 23% of NOAA’s total FIOA processing costs for the year.

    This is the highest dollar amount recovered through fees for FOIA processing
    under the Commerce Department in FY08. It was the third highest rate of
    recovery of the agencies reporting to Commerce that year.

    Source: Department of Commerce FOIA Annual Report FY08, pages 41 – 44.

    NOAA backlogged 143 requests in FY 2007. That year the Commerce
    Department reporting agencies had a total of 180 backlogged requests.
    NOAA’s share was 79.44% of the total for the year.

    In Fiscal Year 2008 NOAA had 102 backlogged requests, and the Commerce
    agencies in total had 143 backlogged requests. NOAA’s share for FY08 was
    71.33% of the Commerce Department’s agency backlogs that year.

    Source: Department of Commerce FOIA Annual Report FY08, pages 51 – 52.

    The Commerce Department reporting agencies received a total of 1,850 requests in
    FY07. The reported 1,936 requests for FY08 is a 4.5% increase from FY07 to FY08
    for Commerce Department’s reporting agencies.

    The Department of Commerce reporting agencies processed 1947 requests in FY07.
    The total reported for FY08 was 1885. This is an overall decrease in request processing
    from FY2007 to FY2008.

    Source: Department of Commerce FOIA Annual Report FY08, pages 50 – 51

    NOAA accounted for 668 or 35.33% of those processed in FY07. In FY08 the
    Department’s agencies processed 1885 request. NOAA accounted for 576 or 30.55%
    of the processed requests.

    …so the massive increase in FOIA requests that take up so much of the researchers’
    time didn’t come through NOAA in 2008.

    • AnonyMoose
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

      The UEA has an FOI officer, who should have a tally of the number of “endless” requests. The FOI officer’s records probably have enough detail to identify the number of “endless” requests to CRU, and CRU individuals, rather than the entire UEA. And as already pointed out on this site, many of the known requests would not have been time-consuming if answered by simply providing data already assembled.

      • Jonathan
        Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 3:23 AM | Permalink

        Re: AnonyMoose (Jan 12 22:12), my FOI request on December 21st was allocated Ref: FOI_09-204, which would seem to indicate roughly how many requests UEA as a whole got that year.

    • SteveGinIL
      Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 3:38 AM | Permalink

      Re: R.S.Brown (Jan 12 19:48),

      A simple math error?

      NOAA reports that in Fiscal Year 2008 the agency received 605 FOIA
      requests. This compares to the 506 request they reported for Fiscal Year
      2007. This is a 7.5 % increase in requests from FY07 to FY08.

      If 605 and 506 are correct, then the FY07-FY08 increase seems to be 19.6%, not 7.5%.

      Am I missing something?

      • R.S.Brown
        Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Permalink


        The “506” in my 1st post should have read “560”.

        The “605” is correct according to the information on page 50:

        Click to access foia_report_fy08_doc.pdf

        I got the math right but my proof reading skills have atrophied.

        Thanks for spotting my fumblefingered error.

  20. Bruce
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 10:19 PM | Permalink

    It is amazing that Nature has chosen to dig its hole deeper with the intelectually lightweight attack with its FOI editorial rather than acknowledge systemic problems with flawed analyses and behavior.

    Nature’s cumulative behavior on AGW, and much more so Mr Mann, grossly flunk Feynman’s 1974 statements on “scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty” (Goodle and see his examples) and Cargo Cult Science. On AGW, Nature appears to have sunk into the latter.

  21. Norbert
    Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 11:26 PM | Permalink

    Asking for scientific data and code should not lead to anyone being branded as part of the “climate-change denialist fringe

    I don’t think this is the case in that simplistic form. Lots of data is available:

    Obviously, in may ways data has been made available because the public release of data is actually considered a *good* thing. However, apparently, this doesn’t include all data.

    To get any further in this debate, other than just assigning blame in general terms, one should argue specifically what kind of data is missing, perhaps by making a list, such that *scientific* research or reproducibility is difficult. And to be fair, it might be nice to mention if the non-release of an item on that data list is blocked by NDAs (non-disclosure agreements from the National Met Services, or others.

    I wonder whether the following quote from Briffa (Oct 27th 2009) relates to the Briffa[2000] data we discussed recently. If so, then Osborn would not only have acted inappropriately, but potentially illegally if he had gone to some server to just get that data and send it to the editor:

    Raw Data Availability

    Briffa has also been attacked by McIntyre for not releasing the original ring-width measurement records from which the various chronologies discussed in Briffa (2000) and Briffa et al. (2008) were made. We would like to reiterate that these data were never “owned” by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and we have never had the right to distribute them. These data were acquired in the context of collaborative research with colleagues who developed them. Requests for these data have been redirected towards the appropriate institutions and individuals. When the Briffa (2000) paper was published, release of these data was specifically embargoed by our colleagues who were still working towards further publications using them. Following publication of the 2008 paper, at the request of the Royal Society, Briffa approached colleagues in Sweden, Ekaterinburg and Krasnoyarsk and their permission was given to release the data. This was done in 2008 and 2009. Incidentally, we understand that Rashit Hantemirov sent McIntyre the Yamal data used in the papers cited above at his request as early as 2nd February, 2004.

    The Climatic Research Unit has never been a prolific producer of tree-ring records, focussing mainly on the collaborative analysis of data generously provided by other institutions. We will continue to respect restrictions placed upon the dissemination of data by those colleagues who provide them. All of the data produced at CRU (sampled from living oaks or pines at various sites around the UK and Scandinavia) have been provided on request. (All of the data used or produced in the analysis described here are provided on the Data page.)

    Steve: “release of these data was specifically embargoed by our colleagues who were still working towards further publications using them” – I think that something in the Climategate Letters says otherwise. Definitely a “dig here”.

    • Norbert
      Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

      (Not sure whether that was exactly the 27th)

      • jim edwards
        Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

        You said: “And to be fair, it might be nice to mention if the non-release of an item on that data list is blocked by NDAs (non-disclosure agreements from the National Met Services, or others.”

        Only CRU can provide this. Up until this past Fall, they claimed that their data was subject to NDAs, but finally admitted that [if any agreements actually ever existed…] they had lost the agreements.

        They eventually released the four “agreements” they had in their possession. [Look here:

        None of the “agreements” appeared to provide an impediment to data disclosure by the Met Office.

        The Spanish agreement put absolutely zero limitations on use or sharing of the data. In the boxes asking for the requestor’s planned data usage, the requestor [Hulme] had simply stated what data he wanted. Hulme didn’t sign the form where directed. The Spanish provided the data without requiring the requestor fill out the form properly or provide any planned use, whatsoever.

        The Bahrainians provided data voluntarily – but then asked CRU after-the-fact ‘please’ not to use it. Not a contract.

        The British Territories agreement appeared to place restrictions on usage, which CRU apparently ignored.

        One agreement [Norway] had actual contract language clearly limiting disclosure of the subject data. Even the most recent data covered by this agreement were more than twenty years old; when asked, the Norwegians had no problem with the data being shared.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

          I don’t know exactly what these papers are, but each of the english ones seems to exclude use by a third party. I think I remember someone translating a spanish document in a similar sense, but I don’t remember this exactly, and don’t know whether it is the document in this pdf.

          I have heard that there are additional informal agreements.

          I find your conclusion “None of the “agreements” appeared to provide an impediment to data disclosure by the Met Office.” contradicted by what I read.

          I don’t think I want to discuss this any further.

        • WillR
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

          Re: Norbert (Jan 13 19:33),


          Jim is right.

          When the data was exchanged there was no impediment — the agreement was simple to the point of “not quite nothingness” — but close. CRU provided the document — in Spanish — I read it.. The “complicated” Spanish Agreement came later. There was a link to both agreements provided. I looked at them as I read Spanish.

          The posts are not hard to find.

        • WillR
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 9:43 PM | Permalink

          Re: WillR (Jan 13 21:38),

          Go here — look for the “agreements” tag.

          That has the original “agreements” they could only find three pretty weak examples.

          Look for Rafa — with the link.
          But the RAFA link provides agrements that had NOPT been used by CRU.

          That’s how I see it — and it isn;t worth more time.

    • Norbert
      Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 2:35 AM | Permalink

      The link for the second quote:

    • Norbert
      Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 4:34 AM | Permalink

      Steve, I did some “digging” in your older posts. Somehow I got the impression that you must have had huge difficulties trying to get that data, used in Osborn/Briffa[2006], which came from Briffa[2000]. I got that expression mostly from this thread (but I think also elsewhere):

      But anything I find seems minimal. Apparently you exchanged a large number of emails with the magazine Science, but they seem to have been about all kinds of things. Apparently you also had previous unsuccessful communications with Briffa. But all I could find regarding this matter, so far, was this:

      The editor (Brooks Hanson) wrote:

      The source for these three series is Briffa (2000). Osborn and Briffa did not not use raw tree-core measurements, only chronologies that had previously been assembled by others, and these have been deposited. You may want to contact those original authors or those publications if you require their raw data.

      You wrote that you found this irritating, but knowing how much trouble the editor already had with all kinds of data, I’d simply understand this to mean that he didn’t want to get that data for you, as he considered that a matter of “those original authors or those publications”.

      But instead of writing to Briffa as the original author of Briffa[2000], you wrote to Osborn. Osborn responded that he not only didn’t use the data, but also didn’t have copy of that data. So you concluded: “OK, he didn’t have the data, but that didn’t mean that Briffa didn’t have the data. So on May 23, I wrote to Briffa one more time”.

      I guess the part I’m missing is the previous times you wrote to Briffa, I couldn’t find that. But following the sequence of events here, Briffa replied:

      Steve these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues – will pass on your message to them]
      cheers, Keith

      So following the suggestion from the editor to get the data for Briffa[2000]from the “original authors” (maybe the problem was the plural here?), you wrote a single email to Briffa. He replied that he passes on the message. To Sweden and Russia. You don’t hear back “from him”, and leave it at that? Do you know he did not pass on the message, as he said? Why did you even expect to hear back from him?

      And then you create the thread above, which causes many readers to blame Osborn for misleading Science?

      Steve: Climategate shows that CRU already had the data and the authority to distribute it. AFAIK I’m concerned Osborn’s reply to Science was intended to “trick” them. You’ve had your say. I’ve got other things to do.

      • Norbert
        Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

        Links for above quotes:

      • jim edwards
        Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

        Norbert, a couple of things:

        First, it’s rude to accuse a person [Steve] of failing to do the legwork to ask for data, and misleading his readers that a third party is to blame – unless you’ve done the legwork to acquire evidence that supports your accusation. Your extensive “digging into older posts” appears to be an edited-down poaching of my post from a week ago on the “Difference in Yamal Versions ‘Not Insignificant’” thread you’ve referenced, above. [my post at very bottom of page, 1-6-10, 3:32 pm] Give credit where credit is due.

        Second, you’ve deleted the money quotes from Steve’s communications with Briffa.
        Steve to Briffa: “Do you have the data? If so would you please comply with the request below and voluntarily provide the measurement data used in Briffa 2000, and relied upon in Osborn and Briffa 2006, for these sites.”
        Briffa to Steve: “Steve these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues – will pass on your message to them.”
        Steve: “That was the last I heard from him. By this time, I’d exchanged over 40 emails with Science and others and figured I’d done all that I could do.”
        The point is, Briffa was playing at the same word game that Osborn had. At some point, a person [Steve] is entitled to give up when he determines his efforts will be fruitless.

        Third, May I suggest the following:
        It is possible [maybe even probable…] that Steve doesn’t post every time he sends or receives an e-mail. Just because you didn’t find a prior communication, doesn’t mean one didn’t occur.

        I was able to find quite a bit of evidence on this website that prior requests to Briffa for data had been reported to be unsuccessful. I found the following in less than 30 minutes, using the website search function:

        “I’ve mentioned previously and should re-iterate that Briffa has refused to provide a listing to me pursuant to a direct request.”
        Comment by Steve M, Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 6:56 AM, in “A Briffa Collation” thread [2-19-06].

        Steve had mentioned the same, more than a year earlier:
        “Briffa et al. (2001) There is no listing of sites in the article or SI (despite JGR policies requiring citations be limited to publicly archived data). Briffa has refused to respond to any requests for data.”
        “Other Multiproxy Studies” thread [12-3-04].

        He even mentioned it in his communications with the journal editor:
        “Dear Dr Hanson,
        Thank you for your prompt response to my letter in respect to Osborn and Briffa [2006], Esper et al [2002] and Thompson et al [1989; 1997]. I appreciate your efforts in this and realize that you are frustrated at being criticized. However, if you reflect on the matter, I’m sure that you will agree that the problem stems entirely from the original authors failing to comply with Science’s data archiving policy. … Since the issue pertains to how Science discharges its policies, it is my position that you, rather than the original authors, are the appropriate arbiter of that. (Additionally, the authors have refused all requests in the past and I see no reason why their behavior would now differ.)…”

        Disgust with Steve M. doesn’t seem to be the motivation for the reported failure to share data. Distinguished scientists in the field are reported to have achieved similar results with Briffa.

        Regarding a communication from noted dendro specialist Rob Wilson to Steve:
        “He said that Briffa would not give him his Yamal raw data…”
        “Wilson on Yamal Substitution” thread [2-22-06].

        Ditto for D’Arrigo:
        “D’Arrigo et al 2006 used Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction without ever examining the mean ring widths because Briffa wouldn’t give them the Yamal measurement data.”
        “Polar Urals and Yamal Mean Ring Widths” thread [2-24-06].

        As much as CRU / Hockey Team members like to complain about being “deluged” with one or two data requests from Steve per year, it should be noted that Steve – and others – have long-standing gripes about being denied data that would make papers reproducible [or not…]. One of the most notorious examples of unscientific behavior by Phil Jones was noted by Hans von Storch, before the National Academy of Sciences’ investigation of the “hockey stick” controversy.
        Steve’s comment on V.S.’s presentation: “Von Storch cited with disbelief Phil Jones’s refusal of data to Warwick Hughes (and he had gone to the trouble of confirming with Jones that the quote was correct as he had trouble believing that any scientist could say such a thing.)”
        V.S.’s powerpoint slide: “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.” (Jones’ reply to Warwick Hughes, 21. Februar 2005; confirmed by P. Jones)
        From “Von Storch at NAS” thread [3-4-06].

        Norbert, please do your research before you sling mud.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

          jim edwards,

          Although I’ve noticed your post in passing, i viewed much more material that you mentioned in your post, and went searching through a lot of blogs doing various searches, mostly, but not only, back to Feb 2006. I don’t think that I found all related posts, and that is why I have asked several questions and pointed out I might be missing something. Those were not rhetorical remarks.

          While I have read your objections with interest, I prefer my post in its current form.

          Since Steve has said that I’ve had my say, and is not interested in discussing this further, so neither am I.

        • Norbert
          Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

          BTW, what you call “money quotes”, seem to be things which I did mention in different parts of my post, just not as lengthy as you perhaps would wish, mostly to avoid a huge post (therefore I supplied links, which you didn’t). I ask you to accept that different persons are interested in different aspects of the story. I maintain that I highlighted the parts which are relevant to the points I wanted to make. Steve would have been welcome to highlight other parts, in fact, I asked him to do so.

  22. Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

    It is noteworthy, in my view, that Science has apparently refrained from editorials of that kind. Also, as we know, it also enforces data archiving policy.

  23. Tokyo Nambu
    Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 1:49 AM | Permalink

    One thing that strikes me, as someone just about to embark on a PhD in another field in my forties, is that the CRU want to have it both ways. If you want to bite off a topic in small, PhD/paper sized chunks, and maintain academic priority by first publication while also keeping your data and secret sauces private for later PhDs and papers, that’s fine. It’s one style of academic discourse, and has a long (if not, perhaps, noble) tradition. You publish methods and results, but aren’t overly helpful to replicators on the grounds that they might then do the work you had planned for your next student. One hears of research groups that have interesting work backed up for decades waiting to be done.

    On the other hand, if you want to be a campaigning shaker and mover of international policy, the fate of postgrads as yet unborn is not your primary concern. If you want to establish your results beyond doubt for the good of humanity, you have both an obligation and practical need to publish as much as possible, as soon as possible, so that your work can be checked and double-checked. To take a slightly emotive example, my father was a student a few years after the war in one of the departments that did a lot of early work on U235 enrichment (indeed, the university where the critical mass was originally determined). Although PhDs were done in HF and UF_6 chemistry (which were apparently removed from the University library in the early 1950s and have never been seen again), they were subject to far more scrutiny and the results were immediately made available to the industrial scale plants. That’s because the students weren’t studying HF_6 diffusion for the good of their health, and the university in question wasn’t planning to stockpile a load of future topics until a good student came along.

    So Jones et al have a simple choice. Publish transparently and be world policy makers, or publish less transparently and have a good stockpile of work for the next decade’s (indeed, decades’) postgrads. To simultaneously want to shape UN policy _and_ wail about publishing priority is disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst.

  24. Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    Steve, this is an excellent thread on an important issue that I am also pursuing here in the UK. I’m currently in correspondence with Britain’s Climate Minister, Joan Ruddock and I’m pressing her to come clean about the widely unreported dropping of these 806 ‘cold’ weather stations as first noted by ChiefIO

    Over at we are running desperately seeking help from volunteers with expertise in computer data analysis in our investigation of the facts behind the dropping of 806 ‘cold’ ground weather stations in one year from the GHCN data set. So far, we’ve gone through part of that long list checking into the details of the dropped stations – particularly their location – whether rural or urban and thus likely to be contaminated by the urban heat island (UHI) effect.

    You may well have guessed that what we’re finding so far from the few stations we’ve analysed is a trend that its mostly rural stations that have been dropped e.g. the dropped Australian and New Zealand stations are mostly rural (e.g. Port Nelson, Ruttan Lake, Joutel). Our readers successfully determined that the station count for the U.S. (in the GHCN v2_mean file) dropped from 1177 to 136 in April 2006. We were able to confirm this by importing the data and by doing a simple count of all station ID’s beginning with “425″ for the year 2006. Replication is straightforward apparently ( I’m no stats man -my contribution is as volunteer writer and legal commentator). I’m told this is a trivial task for any application developer to write the code to import this data and then analyse it. The most significant observation we have noted is that most of the stations left in the U.S. are airports (for the years 2006 and going forward- that’s a clear UHI type contamination in itself).

    What we desperately need is help from other volunteers to complete our task of checking all 806 dropped stations. I want to be able to press the case confidently against the UK Climate Minister as soon as practicable to shame and blame the guilty and to lobby hard for a re-think of the culture of closed-door science and research.

    If there is anything anyone can offer I would be extremely grateful. For more info and to read a copy of my latest letter in response to the Minister please see:

    Best wishes to everyone and keep up the great work!

    John O’Sullivan

  25. John Tofflemire
    Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

    Below is a link to an article in the NYT about the University of Washington withholding the release of data from two studies performed by professors there. The data was requested by a co-founder of Baby Einstein, producers of videos for children under the age of two. The studies purportedly showed that TV viewing by very young children led to attention problems and delayed language develop. The statement, quoted in the article, by William Clark, the above noted co-founder is interesting:

    “Given that other research studies have not shown the same outcomes, we would like the raw data and analytical methods from the Washington studies so we can audit their methodology, and perhaps duplicate the studies, to see if the outcomes are the same.”

    Prior to 2009, the University responded by stating that they could not release the data for a minimum of five years. When the five year period was up, the University claimed they could not find the data.

    Sounds familiar?

  26. enough
    Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

    Here is the best overview of sea levels changes that I have come across.

    see page 2

    As for Nature, after the paper that discussed how the 20M higher sea level during the last interglacial concluded that we need to be worried about abrupt sea level change rather than pointing out the fact that what we are seeing now is normal; That was the final straw for me with nature, dropped by membership.

    Take a long look at the plot, then try to tell me what we are seeing now as far as sea level changes should worry us.

  27. SteveGinIL
    Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:19 AM | Permalink

    I commented above about the interplay between Nicolas Nierenberg and D. Patterson about Nils-Axel Mörner.

    This is kind of a continuation of my comment there…

    I appreciate Nicolas’ POV, too. Both sides need to have a robust interplay. My main thing is why are all these debates taking place in 2009-2010, and not in 1988-1989, before conclusions were drawn indicting human activity? Where was the defense counsel for humans, when we were “held to answer” for the crimes we all allegedly committed?

    . . . .

    An OT screed, or maybe not:

    snip – OT and a screed

  28. Geoff
    Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

    Sea level is interesting but I guess OT for this thread. Suggest to read the earlier thread here.

    Read Carl Wunsch (2007).

    • enough
      Posted Jan 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      Off topic, sorry. Should have placed it in the side discuss that started earlier. As the sea level arguments go round and round you just need to look at the sea levels coming out of the las ice age for a good perspective. Not sure I have the hang of this no blog format yet.

  29. DD
    Posted Jan 15, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    I’m a biomedical researcher, not a climatologist but have been following the Climateate scandal closely. I read Nature regularly and was shocked to see that ridiculous editorial. – snip Just have a look at this site:

    snip – motive


    • enough
      Posted Jan 17, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

      When you wonder on to the Nature climate blog these days, you have to take a second look to convince yourself you did not accidentally end up on the Green Peace site. No objectivity what so ever….

  30. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jan 16, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

    Running out of room!

    Nicolas Nierenberg
    Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    “I know what she is saying and it is wrong. The rate of sea level rise has increased over the instrumental period. I know of no studies that don’t agree with that.”
    I do. Please read –

    A new assessment of global mean sea level from altimeters highlights
    a reduction of global trend
    from 2005 to 2008
    M. Ablain1, A. Cazenave2, G. Valladeau1, and S. Guinehut1
    1CLS, Ramonville Saint-Agne, France
    2LEGOS, OMP, Toulouse, France
    Received: 20 October 2008 – Accepted: 27 October 2008 – Published: 7 January 2009
    Correspondence to: M. Ablain (
    Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union.

    Keep in mind that measurement science is improving with the deployment of new instruments of specific design.

  31. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jan 17, 2010 at 9:08 PM | Permalink

    Labouring a point on sea level rise acceleration, please read 1168921050.txt from the CRU emails.

    > >Peter Lemke wrote:
    > >>Dear Colleagues,
    > >>please find enclosed a ppt-file addressing issues of Chapter 4.
    > >>Slide 1: addresses SPM-312 and 314. I suggest to accept 312. The
    > >>figure (4.15 from the chapter) indicates an increased rate of
    > >>change after about 1990. But I do not think that we have an
    > >>indication of an acceleration (continuously increasing rate of
    > >>change).

  32. DD
    Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    Nature has just done it again.

    I find this line from the editorial particularly galling:

    “The small coterie of individuals who deny humanity’s influence on climate will try to use any perceived flaw in the evidence to discredit the entire picture. ”

    The person who wrote this obviously has no clue how science actually works. In fact, it is usually the ‘percieved flaws’ that are responsible for questioning current models. Doubt and uncertainties are what leads to progress. Without them, we get idiots saying things like ‘The science is settled’. Science is never settled!

    Nature is fast losing credibility, at least in my eyes.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

      Re: DD (Jan 20 14:29),

      “…Those who favour individualism over egalitarianism are more likely to reject evidence of climate change and calls to restrict emissions. And the messenger matters perhaps just as much as the message. People have more trust in experts — and scientists — when they sense that the speaker shares their values. The climate-research community would thus do well to use a diverse set of voices, from different backgrounds, when communicating with policy-makers and the public. And scientists should be careful not to disparage those on the other side of a debate: a respectful tone makes it easier for people to change their minds if they share something in common with that other side.”

      They could follow their own advice, sheesh.

      “…As comforting as it may be to think that the best evidence will eventually convince the public on its own, climate scientists can no longer afford to make that naive assumption: people consider many factors beyond facts when making decisions. Even as climate science advances, it will be just as important to invest in research on how best to communicate environmental risks. Otherwise scientific knowledge will not have the role that it should in the shaping of public policy.”

      They don’t need to invest in research. Just get those top PR firms involved. They’ve done the research and have the experience. Hmmm, maybe one of those firms wrote the editorial, part of the Nature damage-control project. Just a thought.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

        I havent even started on the PR angles on this…..

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

          Re: Steven Mosher (Jan 20 15:23),

          I’ll let you do it but quite awhile ago, when realclimate was born, they mentioned EMS and Fenton and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I was always wary…

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Jan 21, 2010 at 1:06 AM | Permalink

          rules of the road here. we dont talk about the “F” word, much.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Jan 21, 2010 at 4:33 AM | Permalink

          Yeah. If you are smart enough you don’t need foul language to win.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By World wide wake up call « TWAWKI on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    […] importance and necessity of coal fired power. Nature obfuscation criticised, magazine should be called […]

  2. By Climategate, what is going on? - EcoWho on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    […] Nature Anti-FOI Editorial Criticized […]

  3. By Niche Modeling » In Praise of Secrecy on Jan 13, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    […] are needed and provide the additional push to complement the strategy of badgering people to do the right thing. The carrot and […]

%d bloggers like this: